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A Study of Building Obsolescence in Standard Design

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Once the building is obsolete cause by the defect of varying physical deterioration an ageing of various component and building of various age.

The primary objective of this dissertation is to find out life cycle of building element and obsolescence and the effect for the building obsolescence. The definition and differentiation between obsolescence and depreciation, as well as explanation for all different types of obsolescence are being identified on the early stage of the dissertation. A survey is then conducted, few case studies are being conducted to collect information from double storey terrace housing tenants in order to achieve the targeted objective. During the survey, some difficulties are being encountered, such as time constraint and restrict of the obsolescence building have been over cycle life 30 years olds.

The findings of the dissertation show that part of the hypothesis, which was set at the early stage is wrong. Not all types of obsolescence will cause depreciation of rental in office building. Legal obsolescence will not cause the renewal building and effect the service life of the building. At the end of the dissertation, recommendation will be made base on the research throughout this dissertation.

It should be noted that the results from this survey are not perfectly reliable. However, it is hope that it can be a guideline to those who wish to carry out comprehensive or further research on building obsolescence.


Chapter 1


This chapter is the introduction of the dissertation. It will define the background of the study. Aim and objectives of the research will be listed to give a clear understanding on the purpose of this dissertation. Besides, hypothesis is also stated to tell the reader what are the key questions being examined.

Scope of study will be deliberated in this chapter too. It is to discuss on the coverage of this research. Research methodology will also be covered in this chapter to describe the method used to achieve the aim and objectives, as well as the way used to produce this dissertation. Case study, interview and questionnaire will be the main methodology of this research.

The last part of the chapter will be the research structure, where it shows the layout of the chapter of the dissertation.


The initial idea of this topic is developed during my visit to my aunt's work place. Renovation of her office building is carried out at that moment. The reason for the renovation work, which she told me, was to make the building attractive again, so that, the look of the building would not be out of date. Therefore, it gave me an idea to do a research on building obsolescence.

Discussion with my colleagues and supervisor was carried out to narrow down the scope of this topic. Besides, many reading and thinking were done to decide what emphasis of my research is to be. Finally, the narrowed topic was found.

As I have found out, obsolescence has been a persistent problem affecting houses property in recent years. Due to the impact of obsolescence, many houses have been renewal and redeveloped after only 20 to 30 years life, long before reaching the end of their physical life. Many houses in the future are likely to enjoy even shorter useful lives as a result of increased rates of obsolescence.

Obsolescence occurs due to physical deterioration, wear and tear, technological advances, changes in the economic conditions users' requirements, design, appearance, taste, legal, and social needs.

Once the building is obsolete cause by the defect of varying physical deterioration an ageing of various component and building of various age. The research is undertaken to find out life cycle of building element and obsolescence and the effect for the building obsolescence. Hence, my research will discuss this issue in greater depth and goes on to consider different types of obsolescence.

By doing so, I wish that the results from this research will help me to understand the defect of component of material cause the obsolescence building. Such results may also help me in future to know on the prevent ways to treat the obsolescence in building.



To investigate varying physical deterioration an ageing of various component and building of varies age.


1. To investigate the life cycle of building element and obsolescence.

2. To investigate the effect for the building obsolescence.

3. To explain strategy for avoiding and minimizing the obsolescence in building.


Different project types have in themselves different project life cycle, which in turn influence the life expectancy of their various component. Different elements of building also have different stage obsolescence, Users or owners may change and have requirements different from those the element was initially intended to fulfill. Many of the technologies of modern facilities, as well as the activities they shelter and support to minimizing obsolescence, have changed substantially in recent decades and are continuing to change.


The problem of obsolescence is hardly new so need find the board expertise and extensive experience to get the more information for this dissertation. We should be concerned that in an age of rapidly changing technology our buildings are apt to be obsolete. These building might have been built 35 years ago so we will investigate varying physical deterioration of ageing. These changes in technology are not only inevitable; in the long term they are desirable because the new systems and services offer enhanced performance to the facilities, users and owners. However, in the short term, obsolescence can be costly. Thoughtful design and management can defer or avoid obsolescence and thereby improve efficiency as well as effectiveness of our facilities, and that is the ultimate aim of this dissertation.


Various research studies relating to building obsolescence in standard design houses in Perak had been carried out in many ways:-

  • Literature review
  • Case Study and Questionnaires
  • Interview

1.6.1 Literature review

iterature research is very important to get the information in order to do the theoretical of this dissertation. Reading courses such as books, magazines, reference, articles, newspapers, journals and publication are some of very useful sources to get the data required for the dissertation. The sources can be reached by visiting the National Library, KTAR Library or bookshop in town. Internet advertising is very convenience to use especially for this dissertation, since it related to the internet itself and quite new. By logging onto the internet, website of the internet advertising of the property developer can visited and can get more ideal way of literature research sources. These normally gather from newspapers, journals and publications.


1. "Revision Notes on Building Maintenance and Adaptation, Butterworth (1984), George.T.Hall.

2. "Depreciation, Obsolescence and Ageing, (1965), Cowan,P.

3. "The Fourth Dimension In building : Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence.(1993), Donald G. Iselin and Andrew C. Lemer.

1.6.2 Case Study

This stage will survey some standard design double storey houses located at Perak. Some houses was built in between the years 1970's and 1990's. Some properties also included building extension for large families, adaptations for the disable, reorganization of space, re-roofing that was present in some of the properties. The renewal internal for these properties was therefore about 20 years. This is a typical time scale for houses and it linked to the condition of properties, available funding, obsolescence, and the need to provide adequate houses in a community.


Chapter 2


Over the past half of century, our country has been increasing the processes of ageing and obsolescence in building. An observation of buildings in any town will expose an array standards of physical ageing and condition. Many of the buildings are also being used for a purpose which they not original design that one form of obsolescence has affected them.

Today, the demand for new building already diminished that many town have become derelict and need some form of urban regeneration. However, such of the regeneration is more likely from renewal and modernization through the development of greenfield sites.

Many traditional structures have lower failure rates and costs less to maintain than some of the newer forms of the building. With the increasing level of affluence, standards in buildings, life styles demand to improve quality, space and other. This leads to both the desire for new building and to the renewal of existing structure.

More of the renewal of the building is cause by the obsolescence building that failure the structure and the physical. There is considerable degree of confusion surrounding the definition of obsolescence. These two terms are usually without precision. A detail study on the definition of obsolescence is carried out in this chapter to make a clear understanding on building obsolescence.

There are two impacts of the obsolescence on a building named are curable obsolescence and incurable obsolescence. Reflection of them will be given separately in this chapter.

Obsolescence itself can be divided into different categories. As this dissertation is undertaken to find out which types of obsolescence, it is necessary to understand the definition and differences of each type of obsolescence. Hence, the chapter will also go on to define different types of obsolescence.

Hopefully by doing this can provide a guidance to differentiate each type of obsolescence and eliminate the misconception of different types of obsolescence.

These changes are related to the uses of a building or certain spaces within the building are expected to serve (i.e., functional); the cost of continuing to use an existing building, subsystem, or component in comparison with the expense of substituting some alternative (economic); the efficiency and service accessible by the existing installed technology compared with new and improved alternatives (technological); or the broad influence of changing social goals, political agendas, or changing lifestyles.

2.2 DEFINITION OF Obsolescence

Obsolescence is not depreciation. Both of them are two different terms. However, they are related.

Depreciation is an accounting terms and have a formal definition of 'depreciation', drafted by the Accounting Standard Committee (1987), is: "Depreciation is the measure of the wearing out, consumption, or other reduction in the useful economic life of a fixed asset whether arising from use, afflation of time or obsolescence through technological or market changes.

This definition is comprehensive and clearly stated what is the depreciation. Besides, the reader can understand the differentiation between the depreciation and obsolescence. Base on this definition, reader can understand the depreciation is a loss in the existing use value of the property and it occurs as the result of the building becoming obsolete. This implies that obsolescence is the cause of the building and depreciation is the effect of the obsolescence.

Obsolescence was defined differently by many studies in North America and the United Kingdom.

In the United Kingdom, according to Baxter (1971) defined obsolescence as "a decline in utility not directly related to physical usage or the passage of time. This definition is not quite correct because the author does not consider physical deterioration as part of obsolescence.

In accounting work, obsolescence is separated from physical deterioration. However, based on the original definition given by the Oxford dictionary, obsolescence includes physical deterioration: The word 'obsolete' derives from the Latin 'obsoleo', which was in use from the middle of the sixteenth century with the following meaning, "which is no longer practiced or used; discarded; worn out; effaced through wearing down, atrophy, degeneration.

The other aspect that can cause confusion is whether the obsolescence is defined as "a decline in the utility of the building as defined by Baxter (1971) or "a loss of utility introduced by Flanagan et al. (1989). Both the definitions are correct because both decline and loss of utility are affecting the rental price of a building and therefore, shall be included in the definition.

To clarify, obsolescence is the process of becoming antiquated, old fashioned, outmoded, or out-of-date. It describes a decline in utility that not result directly from physical usage, the action of the elements or the passage of time (Baum, 1991).

According to Nutt et al (1976), the buildings can only truly be defined as 'obsolete' when they have become completely useless with respect to all possible uses that they have been called upon to support.

Utility the sense of use fullness, desirability or satisfaction is therefore central to the concept of obsolescence; if something is not felt to be providing utility, it will be considered obsolete (Smith et al.1998). However, because there is no single measure of utility it is difficult to produce a rational, consistent and objective measure of obsolescence (Raftery, 1991). To overcome this problem, obsolescence in buildings is normally measured in terms of the real or nominal decrease in value (Salway, 1986).

Obsolescence also related to decay of tangible and intangible things that all products have an irresistible tendency to become old, but the speed of ageing is different for different objects and circumstances.

Obsolescence is much more difficult to control since concerned with the prediction of charges in fashion, technological development, innovation in the design and the use of buildings.

Obsolescence occurs due to physical deterioration, wear and tear, technological advances, changes in the economic conditions and user requirement. The design, appearance, taste, legal, and social needs will also have an impact to the building.

The impact of obsolescence on a building can be classified into curable obsolescence and incurable obsolescence. Curable obsolescence is one that can be control by the building owner through choice the construction materials, preserve high standards of maintenance and refurbishment. But, it can only manage to a certain extent. The factors into the curable obsolescence are including:

a. Construction faults

b. Level of deterioration

c. Poor level and standard of services

Normally, curable obsolescence can be easily counteracted by means of maintenance or repair.

Incurable obsolescence being the results of inappropriate changes is less easily controlled by the building owner. The most that can be done is to incorporate flexibility into the design of a building to make alterations and adaptations easier in the future. The treatment of incurable impact of obsolescence requires the introduction of new characteristic into a building, which may not be similar with the existing structure.


Previous studies categorized obsolescence into physical obsolescence (Winfrey, 1931; Little 1964); functional and locational obsolescence (Cowan, 1965; Medhurst, 1969); environmental obsolescence (Medhurst, 1969); economic obsolescence (Seymour, 1982); aesthetic, legal, and social obsolescence (CALUS, 1986; Baum 1989).

The above studies considered technological and functional obsolescence as one category. However, at later stage, CALUS (1986), as well as Duffy and Henny (1988) suggested that technological and functional obsolescence should be separately categorized because of the differences in the impact on buildings. Suggestions from them are correct. Technological obsolescence should be considered as one of the major causes of obsolescence because of its important. A building that is functionally obsolete has to be demolished to obtain a better return from the site. However, it does not necessarily apply to a building that is technologically obsolete. For example, a lift has become technologically obsolete, but it does not render the function of the building obsolete. Therefore, the building will still be retained but the lift might be replaced.

Based on the above, obsolescence therefore, categorized as:

  1. Economic Obsolescence;
  2. Functional Obsolescence;
  3. Aesthetic Obsolescence;
  4. Environmental Obsolescence;
  5. Legal and social Obsolescence;
  6. Technological Obsolescence;
  7. Locational Obsolescence;
  8. Physical Obsolescence.

2.3.1Economic Obsolescence

Economic obsolescence seems to control the durability of real estate, whether residential, commercial or industrial. CALUS (1986) suggested that a building might become economically obsolete following a change in the "highest and best use for the land. This might result either from a change in the market condition or in planning policies.

Rand came out with another suggestion saying that besides changes in market condition and planning policies, a change in the national economy can also cause the land to appreciate over and above the normal increase in cost.

Compare both the suggestions; CALUS's suggestion is poorer. He has neglected national economy as one of the reason that causes economic obsolescence. National economy must be one of the concerns as it has great effect to the land value. Once there is a change in the national economy, the land value will be affected.

According to Salway (1986), "Economic Obsolescence is considered to be the result of a change in the "highest and best use for the land. Such a change could be related to specific site or more generally to the surrounding area.

Economic obsolescence is a function of appreciation rather than depreciation: a building becomes economically obsolete not as a result of the existing structure, but through enhancement of the development potential of the underlying land.

The building value decreases over time due to obsolescence. The building can become obsolete if the land value exceeds the capital value of the building faster than its expected physical life. On this occasion, replacement of the existing building becomes economically attractive, as better return from the asset can be generated.

For instance, the land value in a particular area drops due to relocation of the central business zone to another area. New development having advantage of cheaper land cost will be more competitive and attractive to the tenants and will cause the rental for the existing buildings to decline.

Economic obsolescence is incurable and difficult to predict due to lack of information on the future development and confidentiality of government policies.

2.3.2Functional Obsolescence

Functional obsolescence is a product of technological progress resulting either in change in the occupiers' requirements or in the introduction of new building products:

  1. A building may be considered functionally obsolete due to its defective layout (e.g., inadequate floor to ceiling heights and close-spaced structural columns);
  2. A building may become functionally inefficient because its inflexibility to accommodate new information technology (e.g., no raised floor for distribution of cables).

CALUS (1986) suggested that functional obsolescence is the loss of value of the subject facility resulting from a deficiency (other than physical deterioration) that impairs the subject when compared to a replacement facility. Functional obsolescence is mainly incurable, which can shorten the economic life of a building (Rand, 1986).

Baum (1991) considered "Functional Obsolescence as "the product of technological progress that causes changes in the occupies requirements, impinging on the layout and facilities and also felt that legal and social obsolescence should be regarded as sub-sets of "Functional Obsolescence.

2.3.3 Aesthetic Obsolescence

Buildings may deem unacceptable by occupiers if the appearance is outdated and incompatible with their corporate image. Either fashion in architectural style may have changed or, alternatively the building may simply look old and fail to satisfy an inspiration to be associated with up-to-date products. The improved appearance of a building could result in more satisfied employees and the higher standing of the firm and its services or products.

CALUS (1986) suggested that fashion permeates all facets of life including architectural experience. Whatever the long-term view of posterity about a particular architectural style, it will invariably fall out of favor in the medium term. The changes in fashion will provide an adverse reaction against styles, which characterized the immediately proceeding era.

Architectural style cannot be defined precisely. It is best described as a 'State of the Art' of the building design, which is characterized by fashion, vogue, available technology, and personal taste. The introduction of a new architectural style can in some cases, cause buildings with an old design to appear old fashioned and less attractive to potential purchasers or lessees. Buildings with a distinctive design appeal are more likely to have lasting appeal and to be less affected by changes in architectural style.

The effect of aesthetic obsolescence is greater in commercial buildings because the buildings with new architectural styles can fetch higher rental values. The decline in the revenue of old buildings requires the buildings to be refurbished to make them attractive and competitive again.

2.3.4 Environmental Obsolescence

Medhurst (1969) suggested that environmental obsolescence of a whole neighborhood may occur when the conditions in a neighborhood render it increasingly unfit for its current use. Changes in the character of an area may make a building unsuitable for its original intended use. Environmental obsolescence will normally be of greater relevance to depreciation of land than to the depreciation of buildings.

Environmental change such as high pollution, road congestion and urban decay causes environmental obsolescence. For example, an office building may suddenly become obsolete when the adjacent site is used for industrial use. Disturbances from factory engines and air pollution will deter tenants from staying and the building revenue will start to decline.

The need for a change in the infrastructure of an area can also cause a building to be environmentally obsolete. For example, the area needs more car parking, pedestrian areas, efficient public transport and roads.

This type of obsolescence is not directly related to building design and difficult to forecast.

2.3.5 Legal And Social Obsolescence

egal obsolescence stems from the introduction of new legislation or new standards controlling matters such as health, safety, and fire control, which in extreme cases may render a building obsolete. CALUS (1986) and Baum (1989) suggested that changes in social needs might result in occupiers demanding for high and compatible image, good neighborhood and amenities.

For instance, cinema in an area loss its utility due to introduction of home videos, VCD or DVD. So, cinema become uneconomic to operate because loses of revenue. The only way is to convert the cinema to other uses.

Many building become social obsolete although suitable for the purpose envisaged, because it is situated in the wrong location and therefore of only limited practical to use.

egal Obsolescence occurs where a building fails to meet current legislation requirement and the costs involved in bringing the building up to the required standard are prohibitive. In this case, legislation will advance demolition beyond the building's physical life.

Examples, asbestos and other hazardous materials to health are now prohibited in new buildings and where they occur in existing building they need to be either removed or provided with sealed protection systems. The general condition of a building may in some cases make this financially prohibitive, even where grants for their removal are available, resulting in demolition.


Chapter 2

2.3.6 Technological Obsolescence

A Technological Obsolescence occur when the building in no longer technologically superior to alternatives and replacement is undertaken because of lower operating costs or greater efficiency.

A building may become technologically obsolete before half of its physical life passed then the speed of change in current society suggests that in the future this life will be reduced even faster.

CALUS (1986) suggested that this form of obsolescence occurs as a result of technological innovation. For example, some of the existing electrical and mechanical services are no longer technologically suitable or superior in terms of performance or efficiency. Consider for example, improvement in the lighting efficiency of a new lamp, which may make an existing lighting system no longer economically or technologically effective. In some situations, as with building management systems, it may be possible to install these innovations, without replacing the existing asset.

2.3.7 Locational Obsolescence

ocational obsolescence occur when an area - and the property located in it suffers from devaluation because it is considered less fashionable or attractive by occupiers (Bryson,1997).

A building can become locationally obsolete when the economic activities in the area change (Medhurst, 1969). A change in the city planning, such as relocation of the commercial area and construction of new roads and motorways can change the economic activities of the affected areas.

2.3.8 Physical Obsolescence

ittle (1964) suggested that physical obsolescence occurs solely due to the deterioration of the building's physical fabric. This suggestion is not correct because he stressed only deterioration of building's physical fabric causes physical obsolescence. The readers may think that no other factors will cause physical obsolescence except for the deterioration of physical fabric. Actually, components of the building can be considered as one of the physical aspect of the building. Hence, if there is any deterioration of the building's component, the building is considered physically obsolete too.

Therefore, Winfrey (1931) said that physical obsolescence not only due to the deterioration of the physical fabric but also the other components such as mechanical and electrical services and equipment used in the building. However, both the definitions have not mentioned what are the factors that cause deterioration of building's physical fabric, materials or components.

Then, CALUS (1986) came out with the suggestion saying that an asset may remain as good as ever in itself, but be rendered obsolete by external factors such as physical deterioration. Physical deterioration is defined as "deterioration of the physical fabric of building as function of use and the effect of the passage of time.

It is felt that the separation of physical deterioration from obsolescence is not significant, and it is considered as a category of building obsolescence. Flanagan et al. (1989) supported this view by saying that physical deterioration was considered as physical obsolescence. This is because they have similar effects, which can cause the rental price of a building to decrease and its economic life shorten.

Flanagan et al. (1989) came out the statement stated that physical obsolescence is determined by environmental and non-environmental factors. Any material or component will deteriorate because of environmental factors such as radiation (solar and thermal), temperature ranges, water (rain, condensation, snow, ice), air contamination, biological factors (micro-organisms, fungi, bacteria) and stress factors (physical action of wind, hail). The non-environmental factors are generally the stresses that are imposed by humans in their various activities of living, working and playing. Examples are permanent loading, fatigue loading, impact, abrasion, chemical attack, normal wear and tear, and abuse by the user.

The rate of physical deterioration can be forecast within tolerable levels of accuracy using the lives of the respective building components. However, it must be remembered that considered variation exists in the lives of even the same building component depending upon a wide range of the different circumstances (Ashworth,1996).

Kirwan and Martin (1972) suggested that this physical deterioration occurs as the deterioration of the physical structure of the building. It is not simply a factor of age but a combination of age, use and scale of maintenance.

Physical deterioration occurs more slowly than other forms of obsolescence, but it is predictable and curable provided the building is well maintained. Baum's (1989) showed that physical obsolescence is not as significant as functional and aesthetic obsolescence.

The rapid deterioration of buildings and their components can be attributes to many different causes:

  • An emphasis upon initial building costs without considering the consequences of costs in use.
  • Inappropriate design and detailing of buildings and their components.
  • Use if materials and components that have insufficient data concerning their longevity.
  • Constructional practices on site that were poorly managed, supervised and inspected.
  • A lack of understanding of the various mechanisms of deterioration.
  • Insufficient attention given to the maintenance the building stock.
  • Inappropriate use by owners and occupies.

Whereas the rate of physical deterioration, can be controlled by the designer through the correct choice of material, methods of construction and appropriate standards of maintenance, obsolescence cannot, other than through the ability to provide a flexible and adaptable design solution to facilitate easier adaptation and renewal at same later date.


After the study, I clear understanding is developed on depreciation and obsolescence as well as different types of obsolescence. There will be no confusion and misconception surrounding them.

Depreciation occurs as the result of the building becoming obsolete. Hence, depreciation is considered as the effect of obsolescence and obsolescence is the cause of depreciation.

The impact of obsolescence is classified into curable and incurable. Incurable obsolescence is more crucial than curable obsolescence as it is more difficult to control. It can immediately shorten the physical life of the building.

Besides that, I also can understanding the 8 categorizes of obsolescence in this chapter. The categorizes of obsolescence economic, functional, aesthetic and fashion, environmental, legal and social, technological, locational and lastly physical obsolescence.

Through the study, it was found that there are no best and perfect suggestions or opinions in the concept of obsolescence. Especially during defining different types of obsolescence, different authors have their own suggestion, as there are many factors that cause the obsolescence.

The building obsolescence has become an important issue in our country property sector, as changing political, economic, social and technological conditions have served to reduce the functional lift spans of many building. Although the financial impact of building obsolescence for property owner is relatively clear-cut, for operational users of building property the consequences are subtler, as declining utility results in increased occupancy costs and reduce productivity.

In this dissertation, all and every suggestion given by different authors will take into consideration because all of them will be affecting the rental price of the building.


Ashworth, A. (1996), Life cycle costing: Predicting the unknown. Journal of the Association of Building Engineer. April.

Baum A.E. (1989), An Analysis of Property Investment Depreciation and Obsolescence, Ph.D, University of Reading.

Baum A.E. (1991), Property Investment depreciation and Obsolescence, Routlede, London.

Baxter, P.A. (1982), depreiciation, London: Sweet and Maxwell.

Bryson, J.R. (1997), Obsolescence and the Process of Creative Reconstruction, Urban Studies, 34(9), 1439 1458.

CALUS (1986), Depreciation of Commercial Property, CALUS, College of Estate Management, Reading, England.

Cowan, P. (1970), Obsolescence in the Built Environment: Some Concepts of Obsolescence, Joint Unit for Planning research, London, report no. 2.

Dr Abd. Ghani Khalid (1990), An Investigation of The Variables of Building Obsolescence, Building Technology and Management, Annual Journal 1993/1994.

Dr Abd. Ghani Khalid (1990), Building Obsolescence Can Become A Threat to Life Cycle Costing and Property Investment Appraisals, Surveyor, 3rd quarterly 1990.

Dr Abd. Ghani Khalid (1993), hedonic Price Estimation of the Financial Impact of Building Obsolescence on Commercial Office Buildings, a Ph.D thesis, University of reading, the U.K.

Flanagan et al. (1989), Obsolescence: Its Impact on property, Saxon House and Lexington Books, Farnborough.

James Pinder and Sara J. Wilkinson, A Behavioral Approach to the Obsolescence of Office Property, School of Environmental and Development, Sheffield Hallam University.

Kirwan, R. and Martin, D. B. (1972), The Economic of Urban Residential Renewal and Improvement. Working Paper No. 77. Centre for Environment Studies, London.

Medhurst (1969), Overcoming the Obsolescence, The Financial Times, 30th October.

Raftery, J. (1991), Principles of Building Economic: An Introduction, BSP Professional Books, Oxford.

Rand (1986), Building Obsolescence and the Assessor, The Journal of land and Public Utility Economics, vol. 9.

Salway, F. (1986), Depreciation of Commercial Property, College of Estate Management, Reading.

Smith, M., Whitelegg, J., and Willians, N. (1998), Materials Intensity in the Built Environment, in Greening the Built Environment, Earthscan Publications Ltd, London.

Yuen Chee Wai (2000/2001), A Case Study of Building Obsolescence on Pekeliling Flat, Division of Building, School of Technology, Tunku Abdul Rahman College, Kuala Lumpur.


Chapter 3



The goal of the housing choice voucher program is to provide "decent, safe and sanitary housing at an affordable cost to low-income families. To accomplish this, program regulations set forth basic housing quality standards (HQS) which all units must meet before assistance can be paid on behalf of a family and at least annually throughout the term of the assisted tenancy. HQS defines "standard housing and establishes the minimum criteria necessary for the health and safety of

program participants. HQS regulations provide performance requirements and acceptability criteria to meet each performance requirement. HQS includes requirements for all housing types, including single and multi-family dwelling units, as well as specific requirements for special housing types such as manufactured homes, congregate housing, single room occupancy (SROs), shared housing and

group residences (GRs). Requirements for Special Housing


At least annually, it is the responsibility of the PHA to conduct inspections of units to determine compliance with HQS prior to the execution of the entire term of the assisted lease. Inspections may be completed by PHA staff or by contract personnel. HQS consists of the following:

(11) performance requirements:

  • Sanitary facilities;
  • Food preparation and refuse disposal;
  • Space and security;
  • Illumination and electricity;
  • Structure and materials;
  • Interior air quality;
  • Water supply;
  • Access;
  • Site and neighborhood;
  • Sanitary condition; and
  • Smoke Detectors.

Acceptability criteria for each performance requirement help Public Housing Administration (PHAs) determine if the unit meets mandatory minimum standards. For some standard, specific guidance is provided to PHAs, but PHA's must rely upon inspector judgement in the areas. In some instances, family preference should be considered in the determination of acceptability.

PHA use acceptability criteria variations which apply standards contained in local housing codes or other codes adopted by the PHA or because of local climatic or geographic conditions.

Acceptability criteria variations may only be approved by HUD, if the variation meets or exceeds the performance requirement and does not unduly limit the amount and type of rental, housing available at or below the fair market rent . HUD will not approve variations if the change is likely to adversely affect the health or safety of participant families or severely restrict housing choice.

PHAs should strive to ensure consistency among staff in areas requiring judgment. Not all areas of HQS are exactly defined while acceptability criteria specifically state the minimum standards necessary to meet HQS, inspector judgment or tenant preference may also need to be considered in determining whether the unit meets minimum standards or desirable. Staff can receive the tools to make sound decisions through training, access to written policy and procedures, and consistent written and oral instruction.

Potential safety hazards that are not specifically addressed in the acceptability criteria, such as damaged kitchen cabinet hardware, may present a cutting hazard to small children is an example of an area that requires judgement. Less than optimal conditions, such as a water heater with a small capacity, is another example. A good practice is to assess potential hazards based on the family residing in the unit. Some potential hazards may only apply when small children are in occupancy. Some less than perfect conditions, such as a water heater that appears too small for optimal use by the tenant, should be discussed with the tenant, but should not lead to denial of

program assistance if the family is willing to accept the existing condition.

In order to keep assisted units from having to meet higher standard than units in the unassisted market, PHAs should be cautious and thoughtful when requesting HUD approval of a standard higher standard than HQS. Though adopted into local law, local codes, are often not consistently enforced among all units, or are enforced only when complaints are made. Sometimes, certain aspects of a local code are not enforced at all. If the PHA adopts local code requirements, housing choice may be restricted in these instances.

The PHA administrative plan should include any HUD-approved variations to HQS acceptability criteria that will be used to judge the condition of the unit. This practice formalizes the PHA's inspection standards for inspection staff, as well as for owners and tenants. For example, if the PHA has received HUD approval to require that assisted units must have deadbolt locks on all doors leading from the unit to the exterior or public areas, the requirement should be included in the PHA administrative plan as an addition to HQS standards.

3.2.1 Structure

The structure was very conformable use in the standard housing is reinforcement concrete frame. Most of the reinforcement concrete frame basis used for the footing, ground beam, suspended slab, column, staircase etc.

Basic of in-situ concrete designed mix are consider use in the reinforcement concrete frame including Grade 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 and a concrete mix shall be classified as a designed mix where are performance is stated in the contract mix proportions are to be selected by the contractor subject to constraints imposed by specifications such as minimum cement content, water cement etc.

The in-situ concrete prescribed mix where exact mix proportions of (cement: sand: aggregate) are stated in the contract including (1:3:6), (1:2:4), (1:1.5:3) and (1:1:2). Concrete in suspended slab should be less than 1m wide or long shall be classed as concrete in beams and columns. Example:

(a) Before reinforced in-situ concrete Grade 25 in beams should be sawn formwork to side and soffit of beams strutting not exceeding 3.5m high and prepare the steel bar.

(b) Before reinforced in-situ concrete Grade 25 in suspended floor slab should be sawn formwork to horizontal soffit of suspended floor slabs and strutting and the layer of BRC steel fabric reinforcement to BS 4483, well lapped at joints and embedded in suspended floor slab.

3.2.2 Wall

Most of the cement sand brick is considered used as the interior wall and external wall because the burned at high temperature and the lowest absorption rate usually are made by the shift-mud process and highest compression strength.

Masonry used for exterior wall because Malaysia is very hot and the masonry wall itself has large thermal mass that can be absorb heat when exposure to the sun, exterior temperatures, be strong watertight, durable and can provide better sound insulation . Its appearance varies widely in color, texture and pattern.

Interior wall are designed as half brick thick non-loading bearing wall in cement and sand brick with cement and sand (1:6) mortar, laid in Stretcher Bond with and including brick reinforcement at every course.

External wall are designed as one brick thick non-loading bearing wall in cement and sand brick with cement and sand (1:6) mortar, laid in English Bond with and including brick reinforcement at every course: fair face and pointing with weathered joints at both sides as the work proceeds.

3.2.3 Roofing

Roof is an exterior surface and it's supporting structures on the top of a building. Roof as a building external envelope and its function is to protect the covered. Roof is designed to shed water and moisture, for examples prevent rain water penetration into the building and to block the sun light.

The most common system of roof construction are used in housing are pitched roof range from 15 to 45 degree that joist and rafter to support the roof own height and load from rain.

Joints are horizontal boards of from 2 by 2 inches to 2 by 8 inches that are suspended, with their narrow sides parallel to the ground, from exterior walls and often supported by interior bearing walls. (Henry S. Harrison, 1992)

Roofing covering are used in houses are concrete interlocking roof tiles that are designed to provided maximum coverage with material. The concrete interlocking ridge on each sides of the tiles reduce the amount of lap needed for waterlight and hold the together, and to prevent the entrance of moisture and to provide the reasonable durability.

Concrete interlocking roof tiles are consider French tiles, Mission tiles, and Roman tiles. All the roof tiles fixed with galvanized nails to sawn pressure timber with recommendation to sloping roof of 45 degree pitch and the half hip tiles, verge tiles, hip end tiles bedded and pointed in cement and sand (1:3) mortar.

Otherwise the roof drains would get stuck and consequently water cannot discharge from the roof.

3.2.4 Ceiling Finishes

Ground floor is consider "Brefill or other equal and approved cementation plaster comprising two coasts of "Brefill Mortar and one fine coat "Brefill FW to a smooth finish on the concrete base.

At the 1st floor of the terrace house, 13 mm thick gypsum plasterboards linings are used as ceiling finishes for the family area and bedrooms, fixing with self tapping to and including galvanized steel support system; trimming and extra framing around light fittings, diffusers and the like; joints and finishing with gypsum plaster skim to give a flush seamless surface ready for decoration.

Ceiling finishes of bathrooms of all houses are consider 3.2mm thick asbestos free boards used as ceiling finishes. The asbestos free boards is nailing to; timber framework with butt joints; set out symmetrically from centre of rooms in panels of 1200mm x 600mm including extra framing around lighting fittings, diffusers, and the like.

3.2.5 Floor Finishes

The most common types of the tiles are used as floor finishes are ceramic tiles for the dry kitchen and bathrooms, parquet flooring for area family, master bedroom and other bedrooms, broken marble for living and dining place, homogenous tiles for terrace and yard floor finishes. Cement rendering is used as store that cement and sand (1:3) mortar mixed paving trowelled smooth laid on concrete base including finishing to falls and cross-falls and slope exceeding 15 degree from horizontal.

Ceramic tile, homogenous tile and broken marble can be attached to a smooth concrete floor with a special adhesive material. The tile is set by the floating method, before applying the tile, the entire surface is sealed with a suitable water-resistant sealer, then the tile adhesive is applied to the surface with a notched spreader blade.

A waterproof building paper need to priming and laying on the floor concrete and then wire mesh is laid over the subflooring that are not exceeding 15 degree from horizontal. The tiles are sealed in water and then press firmly in place in plastic setting bed. Mortar is compressed into joints, which are tooled the same day the tile is set, and then covered with waterproof paper and damp core. (Henry S. Harrison, 1992)

Parquet wood block flooring may be installed over an underlayment or directly to most subflooring. The block are nailed with at least two nail in each tongued side (four per block), driving the nail at an angle of 40 to 50 degrees. When installed over concrete, the concrete should be first sealed with a primer compatible with the adhesive.

3.2.6 Wall Finishes

Normally, wall finishes of the design standard housing usually is use ceramic tile because ceramic tiles fixture on a ceramic wall are very excellent. They should be installed to withstand 300 pounds of pressure. Wall finishes of the bathrooms and dry kitchen is full height ceramic tile.

Ceramic tile is hard and durable. It is not effected by heat or fire and very strain-resistant and the colour is not affected by sunlight, but it will crack tiles when a heavy pan is dropped on it.

When a ceramic tiles wall is used as internal wall finishes for bathrooms and dry kitchen. First, a wall of plaster or gypsum is constructed as previously described. Then the entire surface is sealed with a water-resistant sealer and the tile adhesive is applied to the entire surface with a notched spreader blade. The tile is set by the floating method.

Other place of plaster and paint is used as internal and external wall finishes. First, cement and sand (1:3) mortar mixed with an approved plasticizer; laid on the brickwork base to the wall and column, then prepare and apply one coat alkali-resisting primer and two coats of emulsion paint on plastered surface of internal walls and column, but for external finishes to wall is prepare and apply one coat alkali-resisting primer and two coats of weather shield paint on external walls and column.

3.2.7 Painting Work

Objective of the painting work for a standard house is to provide adequate resistant to weathering, reasonable durability, attractive appearance and protection any damage corrosion.

Internal surface paint or other coating should be apply one coat alkali-resisting primer and two coats of emulsion paint on al internal surface. External surface paint or other coating should be apply one coat alkali-resisting primer and two coats of weathered resistant emulsion paint on all external surface.

When to be prepared painting, plaster and all surfaces should dry and finished should be clean.

3.2.8 Sanitary Facilities

The sanitary facilities must be usable in privacy and proper operating condition and adequate for personal cleanliness and disposal of human waste.

The bathroom must be located in a separate room and have a flush toilet in proper operating condition.

The tub/shower, toilet, and basin/lavatory must have a proper sewer trap, drain, and vents to prevent the escape of sewer gases or severe leakage of water. Drains must not be clogged and the toilet must flush. Hot and cold water must be available at the tub, shower, and lavatory taps.

3.2.9 Food Preparation and Refuse Disposal

The dwelling unit must have suitable space and equipment to store, prepare, and serve food in a sanitary manner.

The dwelling unit must have an oven and a stove or range. A microwave oven may be substituted for a tenant-supplied oven and stove or range.

The dwelling unit must have a refrigerator of appropriate size for the family.

All required equipment must be in proper operating condition. According to the lease, quipment may be supplied by either the owner or the family.

The sink must have hot and cold running water from the faucets and a proper working sink drain ith gas trap. It must also be hooked to an approved water and sewer system. The definition of ot water should be determined by the local health department or applicable local code.

The dwelling unit must have space for storage, preparation, and serving of food.

Facilities and services for the sanitary disposal of food waste and refuse, including temporary torage facilities where necessary, are required.

3.2.10 Space and Security

The dwelling unit must provide adequate space and security for the family.

At a minimum, the dwelling unit must have a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom.

The dwelling unit must have a least one bedroom or living/sleeping room for every two persons. Other than very young children, children of opposite sex, may not be required to occupy the same bedroom or living/sleeping room.

Dwelling unit windows that are accessible from the outside must be lockable.

Exterior doors to the unit must be lockable.

A living room may be used as sleeping (bedroom) space, but no more than two persons may occupy the space.

Doors leading to the outside and common hallways, fire escapes, and porches or otherwise accessible from the ground must have locks. No specific type of lock is required.

Window and door surfaces (including the door frame) must be in sufficient condition to support the installation and proper operation of window and door locks.

3.2.11 Illumination and Electricity

Each room must have adequate natural or artificial illumination to permit normal indoor activities and to support the health and safety of occupants.

The dwelling unit must have sufficient electrical sources so occupants can use essential electrical appliances.

Electrical fixtures and wiring must not pose a fire hazard.

There must be at least one window in both the living room and each sleeping room.

The kitchen area and the bathroom must have a permanent ceiling or wall-mounted fixture in proper operating condition.

The kitchen must have at least one electrical outlet in proper operating condition.

The living room and each sleeping space must have at least two electrical outlets in proper operating condition. Permanent overhead or wall-mounted light fixtures may count as one of the required electrical outlets.

3.2.12 Structure and Materials

The dwelling unit must be structurally sound.

The structure must not present any threat to the health and safety of the occupants and must protect the occupants from the environment.

Ceilings, walls, and floors must not have any serious defects such as severe bulging or

leaning, large holes, loose surface materials, severe buckling, missing parts, or other serious damage.

The roof must be structurally sound and weather-proof.

The foundation and exterior wall structure and surface must not have any serious defects such as serious leaning, buckling, sagging, large holes, or defects that may result in air infiltration or vermin infestation.

The condition and equipment of interior and exterior stairs, halls, porches, and walkways must not present the danger of tripping and falling.

3.2.13 Interior Air Quality

The dwelling unit must be free of air pollutant levels that threaten the occupants' health.

The dwelling unit must be free from dangerous air pollution levels from carbon monoxide, sewer gas, fuel gas, dust, and other harmful pollutants.

There must be adequate air circulation in the dwelling unit.

Bathroom areas must have one openable window or other adequate ventilation.

Any sleeping room must have at least one window. If the window was designed to be

Oened, it must be in proper working order.

3.2.14 Water Supply

The water supply must be free of contamination.

The dwelling unit must be served by an approved public or private water supply that is sanitary and free from contamination.

Clean water must be distributed to all unit fixtures and waste water must leave the unit to an approved area without presence of sewer gas and backups.

Plumbing fixtures and pipes must be free of leaks and threats to health and safety.

3.2.15 Access

Use and maintenance of the unit must be possible without unauthorized use of other private properties.

The building must provide an alternate means of exit in case of fire.

The unit must have private access.

In case of fire, the building must contain an alternate means of exit such as windows, including use of a ladder for windows above the second floor.

The emergency (alternate) exit from the building (not the unit) may consist a second

door, or exit through windows. The emergency exit must not be blocked. It must

be appropriate for the family and considered adequate by local officials. Guidance from the local fire agency is advisable.

3.2.16 Site and Neighborhood

The site and neighborhood must be reasonably free from disturbing noises and reverberations or other dangers to the health, safety, and general welfare of the occupants.

The site and neighborhood may not be subject to serious adverse natural or manmade

environmental conditions, such as dangerous walks or steps, instability, flooding, poor

drainage, septic tank back-ups or sewer hazards, mudslides, abnormal air pollution, smoke or dust, excessive noise, vibration, or vehicular traffic, excessive accumulations of trash, vermin, or rodent infestation, or fire hazards.

Taking into consideration the type of neighborhood, presence of drug activity, commercial enterprises, and convenience to shopping and other facilities, the family selects a unit.

3.2.17 Sanitary Condition

The dwelling unit and its equipment must be in sanitary condition.

The dwelling unit and its equipment must be free of vermin and rodent infestation.

The dwelling unit must ensure that the unit is free of rodents and heavy accumulations of trash, garbage, or other debris that may harbor vermin. Infestation by mice, roaches, or other vermin particular to the climate must also be considered. The unit must have adequate barriers to prevent infestation.

3.2.18 Smoke Detectors

On each level of the dwelling unit including basements, but excluding spaces and unfinished attics at least one battery-operated or hard-wired smoke detector in proper operating condition must be present.

Smoke detectors must be installed in accordance with and meet the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association Standards (NFPA) 74 or its successor standards.

If a hearing-impaired person is occupying the dwelling unit, the smoke detectors must have an alarm system designed for hearing-impaired persons as specified in NFPA 74.

Local codes, such as housing or fire codes, often address responsibilities between owners and tenants for installation and maintenance of smoke detector batteries. At initial, inspection smoke detectors must have good batteries and be operable.

Consultation with the local fire officials is recommended regarding acceptable types and location of smoke detectors.


Chapter 3


Service life often differs from physical life: the actual time it takes for a building, subsystem, or component to wear out or fail, or the "time period after which a facility can no longer perform its function because increasing physical deterioration has rendered it useless" (Kirby and Grgas, 1975). Sometimes failures caused by design or fabrication errors bring an early end to the physical life. However, more typically, over the years roofs need replacing, mechanical equipment breaks down, metals corrode, and sealants erode, regardless of users' needs, economic factors, or technological advances. These conditions are not obsolescence, although the repairs or replacements may incorporate materials or parts that use new technology and thereby defer or redress obsolescence.

For many types of buildings, and for purposes of financial analysis, this design service life typically is assumed to be 15 to 30 years. Interior finishes and technology subsystems generally are expected to have much shorter service lives, whereas structural frames, foundations, and exteriors are recognized to be longer lived. These expectations of design service life provide the basis for making many decisions in the course of facilities planning, design, and management.

The design service life of facilities is projected to be the time required for performance deterioration to reach minimum acceptable levels. Efforts to make precise predictions of the length of service life, physical life, and the course of performance with timefor major building components, subsystems, and entire buildingshave been the subject of study for several decades, and progress has been slow. Experience, custom, and rules of thumb continue to be the primary sources of estimates for these parameters.

Design decisions and owners' investment decisions typically are based on an assumption that adequate performance can be delivered for 15 to 30 years (a design service life, as previously defined). Rarely, however, does this period elapse without some periodic renewal or refurbishmentreplacement carpets, painting, and overhauling of compressors, for examplethat increase performance during the service period and effectively extend the service life (see Table 1).

In practice, actually, most buildings provide adequate service over periods considerably longer than those explicitly considered in design, and the physical life for a building as a whole normally can be expected to extend beyond the design service lifeto 20 to 40 years or more. As Table 1 illustrates, anticipated service lives very substantially among building types and building subsystems.

3.4 Summary

After the study, I can understanding the requirement of the housing quality stand

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